You can’t have one without the other.

 

There are just 63 days left in 2014.

How did such a thing happen??

Sixty-three days left to evaluate what worked great in 2014 and what went down in flames. Sixty-three days left to envision and lay the groundwork for a fabulous 2015. Sixty-three days left to figure out how to apply everything you’ve learned this year to create an even better next year.

But no pressure.

Planning for a great new year requires good balance. You get to create a dynamic equilibrium between:

Each of these balancing acts presents its own challenges.

Success requires a balance of planning and action.

Take balancing thought and action. If you’re a perfectionist, chances are you’re so picky about how you define “good enough” that you’re rarely willing to put your efforts out there and see what kind of a response they get. And if you’re more of a gung-ho, let’s-see-what-happens kind of person, you’re at risk of running into problems that could have been avoided with a little forethought.

As for implementing and evaluating, how many of us fall down on the latter? It’s awfully tempting to keep doing what you’ve been doing, but does it really make sense to? The only way to find out is to evaluate whether your efforts are producing the results you want—assuming, that is, that you know what those results are and how to evaluate them.

And let‘s not forget about the ongoing tug-of-war between doing and delegating. It makes perfect sense for you to be what Michael Gerber calls the “technician” of your business: the one who delivers the actual service you got into business to offer. However, all the other tasks that go into creating a thriving business—sales, marketing, accounting, and so forth—are probably not the best use of your time. You get to figure out if it makes sense to conserve funds by doing all or some of these activities yourself, or if you’ll get a higher ROI by paying someone else to do them for you.

 

Success depends on both planning and action.

 

So…As you start laying the groundwork for a truly kick-ass new year, here are steps you can take to steady yourself in the daily balancing act called business ownership.

 

Remember you’ll almost always have more than one chance.

So what if something is not “perfect”? It’s rare that you’ll be faced with a do-or-die situation, so what will it matter, in the long run, if your first attempt is less than perfect? A good product introduced to the market in a timely manner will get you a whole lot further than a perfect product never released, so go ahead and launch when it’s good enough. The marketplace will give you plenty of feedback about whether it’s happy or wants something different.

 

Step aside for a time.

If your default speed is “fast forward”, practice giving yourself 24 hours before committing yourself to a course of action. Whether we’re talking about hitting the “send” button on an important email or dashing off a proposal to speak at a conference, give your brain time to settle down and make sure you’re advancing your goals, not sabotaging them.

 

Tap the power of baby steps.

Many entrepreneurs get overwhelmed when faced with a big, important activity; this often results in them taking no action, because they can’t figure out how to get started. The silver lining to this dark cloud is the fact that baby steps will get you to the same place as giant steps; the journey will just be a little longer. And slow-but-steady progress is a WHOLE lot better than letting yourself become paralyzed by overwhelm and making no progress.

 

Take time to figure out what you should measure and how to measure it.

It’s easy to get sucked into focusing on how many social media Likes or followers or connections you have, or how many people sign up for your opt-in offer. Big numbers are certainly gratifying, but are they profitable? Do your social connections translate into ideal, paying clients for you? Is your free opt-in offer so compelling and value packed that people are happy to pay for the privilege of working with you one-on-one?

Take time to identify where your best clients come from; track your close ratio with prospects; get clear on which website pages draw people in; identify blog topics that create the most interaction; get help, if you need it, on crafting great promotions to people who are connected to and engaged with you, then be sure you can identify which promotions converted best. That way you’ll get to enjoy big numbers where they count most—in your bottom line.

 

Continually hone your self-management and professional skills.

Stephen Covey used the phrase “sharpening the saw” to describe the need to ensure your business-building tools are in top operating condition. In other words, you get to stay on top of the myriad skills entrepreneurs need to create a thriving business, whether those skills are technical or interpersonal.

There are so many resources available that you could get sucked into spending all your time in personal- and professional-development activities; this would make it tricky to do any billable work. So you get to identify the key areas that will give you the biggest ROI and focus on them. (Contrary to what many people believe, some studies indicate that this ROI comes from honing your strengths, not from trying to upgrade your areas of weakness.)

 

Be smart enough to turn over appropriate tasks to those who can do them quickly and well.

There’s probably not a single entrepreneur out there who hasn’t wasted massive amounts of time at least once by trying to do a task for which they had no aptitude: create a website, manage social media, write articles…The list goes on and on.

If you’re still of the “I can do it all myself” school of thought, the trick is to be aware of just how much time you’re actually spending on a task and what sort of opportunity cost that brings with it. After all, if you’re struggling to install new plug-ins on your WordPress site, you’re not going to be available to do the video blogs that generate so much interest in your services.

What I’ve found works well for me is to set myself a time limit; if the task isn’t done when my timer goes off, I turn it over to someone else. Just recently I wanted to change some formatting on my website. While I had an idea where to start, I wasn’t sure I’d know how to complete the task. I allowed myself 30 minutes to figure it out. When the timer rang and I hadn’t accomplished my goal, I immediately bailed out of WordPress and sent an email to my favorite tech wizard, explaining what I needed help with. The out-of-pocket cost? Fifty dollars. The relief of having the task done in 48 hours with no stress on my part? Priceless.

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How do you create a dynamic equilibrium between all the conflicting demands on your time and resources? How have you learned what to say “yes” to and what to ignore? Please don’t be shy about sharing your success techniques with us!

Or are you so buried under relentless demands that you can’t tell top from bottom? Do you put so much pressure on yourself to “do it right” that you end up not doing it at all?

That’s something I could help with.

My specialty is showing clients how to figure out what’s really important and how to get that done while ignoring all the extraneous stuff. You’ll develop the skills to confidently choose a course of action, map it out, and act on it. You’ll know that I’ve got your back; sometimes my job will to give you a congratulatory pat on the shoulder, and other times it will be to give you a compassionate kick in the butt to help you do those scary-but-important tasks.

Would we work well together? There’s no way to know until we have a chance to connect. An easy, no-risk-to-anyone way to do that is through a 30-minute call in which we can both ask and answer some questions. At the end of that time, we’ll both feel confident about our decision to work together, whether that decision is “Let’s start right now!” or “You’ve got to be kidding!” or “Let’s put this on hold for a while.”

It’s easy to set up this get-acquainted call. Just reach out to me at 319-270-1214 or email me with “What a balancing act!” in the subject line. We’ll set up a convenient time to talk and explore possibilities.

I can guarantee that, regardless of the decision, you’ll have more clarity about your situation and what you’re willing to do about it. How’s that for an ROI?

(BTW, thanks to Iain A. Wanless for posting his image of this high-wire act in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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